How to future-proof your website hosting

If you’ve ever moved hosting company or considered it, you’ll know there are a lot of moving parts and things tend to go wrong. In fact lots of business owners will stay with a terrible web host for years just because they’re scared to lose their emails.

Fear not, here’s my 3-supplier system for a robust and remote hosting setup for your small business.

1. Register your domain with Google

Most web designers would suggest you register your domain with your hosting company. It makes sense to keep your domain and hosting in one place, doesn’t it? No, it really doesn’t.

At first having your domain and hosting with the same provider seems like a great idea, until you get tired of your host (you will. More on this shortly). Then you find yourself having to move your domain and hosting to a new provider, involving filling in forms, jumping through hoops and often having to wait up to 72-hours (without your website or email) for the migration to take place.

Google Domains is a fairly new service from Google, and ties in seamlessly with your Google account. If you’ve ever tried registering a domain with a company like Godaddy, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to use Google domains, and it’s refreshing not being bombarded with advertising at every click.

With you domain registered at Google, every time you want to move your website elsewhere, you only have to change one setting and you’ll usually have zero downtime.

Plus, their domain name prices are pretty good and you can transfer an existing domain to Google for a small fee.

2. Manage your Email through a 3rd party

Moving a website from one host to another is easy. You download a copy of the site and the database, and you put them on your new hosting server. Simple. Until you realise you have to move your email accounts too.

Email that’s hosted on your web hosting server is a pain to move. You have to setup new accounts for each address with your new host, and you often have to manually move each email from one server to the other. Usually there’s some downtime when you migrate hosts too, so you’ll lose all email service for a couple of hours, or a couple of days depending on your hosts.

Thankfully there’s an easy solution. Host your email somewhere else.

Personally I like Google’s G Suite service because I’m a Gmail fan (and I already have my domain with Google). The service will cost you a monthly fee per user account, but they only cost a few Dollars a year, and you’ll thank me later.

Do you have to use gmail.com email accounts? No, this service is different to the free Gmail account you probably use for your personal email. It works with company emails. For example, my email, dave@growpress.com is hosted by G Suite but I use Gmail to read my mail (I also use the Apple Mail app on my iPhone).

So what happens when you’re hosted with G Suite and you move host? Nothing. You simply setup Google Email at your new host (usually a 1-click process if you host with Siteground or many other cPanel hosts) and your emails will switch seamlessly from one host to the other when you change your domain settings. Worth. Every. Penny.

3. Web hosts are only for websites

So, now that your domain is registered elsewhere and your email is hosted remotely, your hosting provider is the final piece of the puzzle.

In the 14 years I’ve been hosting websites I’ve used 8 or 9 companies. Hosting companies always seem to start out brilliantly, but as they get more customers, most hosts forget to invest in good infrastructure or good staff, and the service deteriorates.

My current favourite hosting company is Siteground. I don’t recommend their WordPress hosting service. It’s too limiting. Try their GrowBig Web hosting account. It’s cheap, their service is impeccable and their servers are lightning fast. Plus, they have a 1-click setup for your Google email.

I highly recommend them for website hosting (remember, that’s all we’re using the hosting company for. Everything else is managed by someone else).

I’m working on a step-by-step guide for you DIY types who like to try these things for yourselves, but in the meantime here’s a summary of the steps you should take to tie all of this together.

  1. Install your website on Siteground’s server.
  2. Using Google Domains, point your domain’s ‘A’ record to Siteground’s IP address.
  3. In Siteground’s MX records, setup Google email with 1-click.

Now relax, all your processes are in good hands. And if you need help setting any of this up, hire me for a couple of hours.